Sunday, August 6, 2006 12:00 AM
Join the Dark Side of Visual Studio
Visual Studio is without a doubt a powerful tool. With every iteration, it continues to improve upon itself. But as you happily hack away at all your applications, you are blistfully unaware of it's evil dark side that has been there since the beginning. It's true.
There are those of us who embrace the dark side. But we are out numbered...
You see, the dark side isn't how it comes by default. No... it comes all happy and bright and cheery by default, and like good little jedi programmers you accept those defaults. But the dark side is there, hidden away deep within the environment settings, reaching out and corrupting those programmers who are corruptible. Why some are corruptible and some are not is a mystery that may never be solved, but each and every programmer must give pause and consider the benefits it provides.
I know what you may be thinking. It's hard to read. Are you so sure about that? Lets compare it with the happy cheery default color scheme:
The key difference of course is the pervasive black background color. This is the environment I and many others work in every day. For me, it started way back when I used a Borland C++ IDE that had preset environment color schemes. One was called Twilight, and it looked similar to this. Most people who see it for the first time are offended by it... but if you think about it, it really makes sense. It brings balance to the force.
The default scheme sports a bright white background color with dark text over it. But monitors these days are brighter than ever. You're presumably a programmer, so you've no doubt had those late but productive coding nights, nights that are lit by only the glow of your monitor. The glow is bright enough to light up the room and cast shadows. Not unlike... a light bulb.
So there you are, staring straight into a strong light source, looking for the few pixels on it which are not illuminated. Can you read the wattage and manufacturer letters on the head a light bulb while it's turned on? Ahhh... but what if the bulb were black, and only the letters on it were illuminated?
This bulb has no markings, but you'd bet they'd show up nice and bright and easy to read in the right image. Another benefit someone pointed out to me once -- if you're on a laptop, it saves your battery life! Horray for an extra 20 minutes of mobile coding!
It seems to me the only reason a black-on-white background is so standard is because the GUI was invented to be an analogy to pen and paper. Paper is white. Your screen doesn't have to be. Don't conform to the status quo! Plus, it just looks really cool... I think.
Want to join the dark side? Download the settings here..
Visual Studio 2005
Visual Studio 2008
Just import them via the Tools->Import and Export Settings menu. Don't worry. If it doesn't suit you, just revert :)
As for VS2003, to enable exporting/importing styles in VS2003 you need an add-in. There happens to be one called VSStyler, which you can download here:
VSStyler Add-In for VS2003
Once you have the add-in, download the dark side style export here:
The Dark Side for VS2003
UPDATE 03/28/2008: Added new settings for Visual Studio 2008. I've improved on the scheme a little, and it now uses the Consolas font, too.
Happy (dark) coding!
Filed under: Visual Studio, Coding Environment